Main image of article Google Cloud Platform: Training, Salary, and Why It's Worth Learning

When it comes to the cloud, Microsoft and Google aren’t willing to let Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominate the market. Both companies are pouring enormous resources into boosting their respective platforms, Azure and Google Cloud.

For Microsoft, those efforts are paying off, with Azure rapidly gaining market-share among businesses. But Google Cloud Platform controls only 9 percent of the cloud market, compared to Azure at 21 percent and AWS at 32 percent. That’s not the best position, especially when you consider the money on the table: The $150 billion web hosting industry is expected to grow 33 percent by 2025, ballooning its overall value to $200 billion. 

If you’re a technologist whose work touches the cloud in any way, should you devote the time and resources to learning Google Cloud Platform, considering its relatively small market-share? Keep in mind that Google Cloud Platform offers far more than web hosting: There are an exhaustive 4,500 products in the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace, ranging from API management to artificial intelligence. 

What is Google Cloud Platform (GCP)?

On a most basic level, Google Cloud Platform is similar to AWS and Azure, offering cloud-based storage and compute to any tech pro with a credit card. And just like AWS and Azure, its product and database offerings have proliferated wildly over the past few years. A Google Cloud Platform client can utilize a broad array of tools built for very specific functions, including:

There are a variety of other products, as well. Like other platforms, Google Cloud Platform is a pay-as-you-go system, which means developers who are running multiple instances and/or utilizing a lot of compute should keep a careful eye on their spending rate.

What are the Learning Paths for Google Cloud Platform?

Like many other cloud providers, Google offers a variety of documentation and learning materials for cloud specialists. These resources are subdivided by specialty as follows:

Cloud Digital Leader Learning Path: These learning activities break down how a “cloud digital leader” (presumably a project, product, or team leader tasked with utilizing Google Cloud as part of a tech stack) can leverage Google’s cloud for everything from infrastructure modernization to data storage and analysis.

Cloud Engineer Learning Path: Cloud engineers are the backbone of any organization’s cloud-based efforts. On the most basic level, they keep an organization’s cloud services running. Google’s materials cover everything from Google-based Kubernetes/container use to scaling and automating cloud infrastructure.

Cloud Architect Learning Path: Cloud architects take a more strategic approach to cloud development and deployment. Before a company takes a plunge into cloud infrastructure, the cloud architect must sit down and determine everything from resource management to infrastructure deployment.  

Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Architect Learning Path: Not all organizations have migrated completely to the cloud; many run a combination of cloud-based and on-premises services. That introduces a significant element of complexity for architects who must plot out hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure, something this Google learning path attempts to address.

Network Engineer Learning Path: This learning path breaks down how network engineers can configure and maintain networks that rely on Google Cloud.  

Security Engineer Learning Path: Security engineers defend the tech stack from internal and external threat. In the context of Google Cloud, this means network management, ensuring ironclad access privileges and identities, and mitigating vulnerabilities.

Data Engineer Learning Path: Data engineers must manage data in movement and at rest; their work ensures that data analysts and data scientists have cleaned and prepared data for analysis and insight. Google Cloud’s resources for data engineers include analytics, a breakdown of data tasks, and an exploration of machine learning and A.I.

Machine Learning Engineer Learning Path: Machine learning is rapidly becoming a critical initiative at many companies, and the cloud is an integral part of any type of machine-learning buildout. Tools and frameworks such as TensorFlow can run on Google Cloud.

Data Analyst Learning Path: Data analysts are usually tasked with more “tactical” data analysis, which means breaking down an organization’s day-to-day data challenges and problems. Google’s learning materials for data analysts range from a BigQuery tutorial to developing machine learning models.

Cloud Developer Learning Path: Cloud developers build out cloud-based apps and services. Like cloud engineers, they’re front-line workers when it comes to using a platform such as Google Cloud; to that end, the company’s learning materials cover deployment, debugging, and much more.

There are other learning paths available via Google’s website. No matter what your specialization, chances are good there’s a lesson that will explain how Google Cloud can help you achieve your cloud-based goals. As far as cloud-based training goes, you could do far worse.

Why Should You Learn Google Cloud Platform?

Drew Firment, Senior Vice President of Cloud Transformation at A Cloud Guru, tells Dice: “While Google Cloud is third in cloud market share behind both Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure), revenue of its cloud division grew nearly 45 percent to almost $5 billion. Google is aggressively investing in new capabilities and rapidly expanding their customer base—making GCP a great choice for technologists who are looking to advance their careers.”

In other words, there’s a chance that many businesses will embrace Google’s cloud offerings, especially if it provides a cost-efficient alternative to Azure and AWS. If you want to present yourself to potential employers as someone who truly knows everything the cloud marketplace has to offer, you should familiarize yourself with at least the most basic Google Cloud Platform functions. 

There’s also a compensation element involved here: Stack Overflow’s latest Developer Survey queried specialists in the world’s largest cloud platforms about their median salaries and found that specialists in Google Cloud Platform pulled down a median salary of $55,600 per year, just behind Azure ($62,630) and AWS ($66,810). That’s pretty solid—and there might be less competition out there for jobs involving Google’s platform.

Should People Pay for Google Cloud Platform Training?

If you want to use Google’s own documentation and resources to learn about Google Cloud, you’ll need to pay for it: the company charges $29 per month ($299 for an annual subscription) that gives you access to training, learning, and much more. Keep in mind that if your organization wants you to learn Google Cloud skills, they’ll likely prove willing to pay Google’s fee. (To be fair, Google also offers some free resources.)

Instruction in Google's platform is also available on Coursera and Pluralsight, both of which are paid platforms. Both sites host “official” Google Cloud Platform training and offer several certifications.

If you’re learning on your own and you’re adverse about paying Google or another vendor directly, you can always try to find free resources online. For example, Udemy offers a free introductory course to Google Cloud Platform concepts, as does Coursera.

However, Firment adds that “free is expensive” when you consider the time some free courses require. “Consider a subscription to a skills development platform that is focused on your individual success,” he adds.

Carl Long, Director of Partnership Engagement at Nerdio, says: “Third-party supplemental courses are helpful but not required to become certified. Some third-party resources come at a cost, but they do tend to provide more depth into real-world examples, ideas and executions.”

Steven Walker, CEO of Spylix, tells Dice: “To get expertise, technologists should pay for Google Cloud training. Google Cloud certifications assist you in advancing your professional skills and show your value to potential employers. Google's needs-based scholarship offering may make certifications less costly. While keeping financial investment to a minimum, you might discover a Google Cloud certification is more than worth the effort.”

Will Google Cloud Training Help You Land a Job Faster?

Ami Noble-Newton, Global Learning and Development Director at Revolent Group, says: “There can never be a guarantee of how fast you may land a job, no matter what training or experience you have, and this is because there could be so many other factors impacting the need for cloud professionals. Luckily, we’re in a period now where cloud professionals are in extremely high demand and look to be for the foreseeable future—and especially those with a cloud-based competency and skillset.” 

Skills and experience open up opportunities. If you can show a hiring manager or recruiter that you can combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience, you have an advantage when it comes to competing for cloud-related jobs. “Training and certifications almost always top the list, accompanied by evidence of experience,” Noble-Newton adds. “This means that if an employer is weighing up your resume against someone who hasn’t utilized a training course, you’ll almost always come up top.”

Firment adds: “The cloud skills gap is the biggest challenge that enterprises are facing today with their digital transformation programs. Google Cloud skills are in massive demand and acquiring the certifications and hands-on experience will certainly accelerate the hiring and promotion process.”

Is Google Cloud Training Good for Those Continuing Education?

“Every year, Google Cloud introduces thousands of new features and services,” Firment notes. “Once you’ve learned the basics of cloud computing and Google Cloud, continuous education becomes essential. Getting certified on Google Cloud and becoming an expert just means that now you know how much you don’t know.”

While Google has a great platform for learning, using those programs to supplement a more formal education may be best. “There’s no reason why you can’t also continue your studies at the same time,” Noble-Newton says. “This could be helpful for a multitude of reasons, such as for students who want to have a head start when they leave college or university. Any good training program will last several years, giving you a greater opportunity to spread the workload and operate on a time schedule that suits you best. Of course, it may require some sacrifices from your time, but in my opinion, it’s certainly a sacrifice worth making.”

Does Google Cloud Platform Have Certifications?

Google offers a handful of certifications for Google Cloud Platform, including:

Foundational Certifications: Designed to certify “broad knowledge of cloud concepts and the products, services, tools, features, benefits, and use cases of Google Cloud.”

Associate Certifications: Designed to certify “the fundamental skills to deploy and maintain cloud projects.”

Professional Certifications: Designed to certify “key technical job functions and advanced skills in design, implementation and management of Google Cloud products.”

While you don’t necessarily need certifications to land a job, they do tend to pop up frequently in job postings. Hiring managers and recruiters often see certifications as a sure way to evaluate a job candidate’s skills. You can still get hired without certifications, but if you’re in that position, make sure to structure your resume and application to show your previous success in building and maintaining cloud platforms; you may also be subjected to hiring assessments designed to test your Google Cloud skills.

How Much Do Google Cloud Platform Skills Pay?

According to Stack Overflow, those with a GCP Cloud Architect certification can earn an annual average of $169,029. In general, according to Dice’s most recent Tech Salary Report, cloud architects and engineers make an average of $145,416 per year, up 3.4 percent between 2021 and 2022. In other words, learning Google Cloud (along with AWS and Azure) can unlock significant compensation.